SNOOK AND SCHNAPPER
DAY WITH THE FISHERMAN
life for Good Sailors
(BY GEOFFREY SALTER)
On the South Coast, within two miles or so of Port Victor lies the historic village of Encounter Bay. Nestling ia a shallow valley, there is the Bluff, a
long arm of land, runs far out into toe sea, like a sentence sheltering the village from the squally west wind on one side. Standing practically treeless and dear cut against the skyline, it locks like the huge forearm of a lion protecting its cubs. The village is the proud possessor of the oldest inn in South Australia, an ever-present reminder of the ancient whaling days. Once the haunt of the ancient whalemen, it is now solely a fishing village, and an ideal holiday re sort tor the keen fisherman. Long trips may be taken to the schnapper grounds and other places farther along the coast. But it requires an early start, and the devotee must be a good sailor. EARLY VIGIL Recently the writer took a trip in a cutter and it meant a start at 4 a.m. with a fair wind. The cutter carried every stitch of canvas she could, and we soon rounded the corner of the bay, and after about half an hour's good sailing, we passed West Island on our port side; a low isand, singularly round in its contour, but very rocky and utterly bar ren, save for an occasional patch of brown grass, and scattered here and there a few stunted pushes. We were bound for the schnapper ground farther down the coast. This island appears to be quite devoid of life, but on landing it will found simply infested with rabbits. There was a penguin's nest under every other rock. Once when we landed we found a rab bit, scared by the unusual sounds of human footsteps, nestling between two young penguins vainly endeavoring to hide. The penguins were quite unpertur bed. This island has a great reputation for sweep fishing. SEALS ABOUND For some hours we travelled by engine power until we came within sight of the Pages (two islands which lie a mile or so off the coast), close to the beaten track of tbe mail steamers, between Cape Jervois and Kangaroo Island. The Pages do not deserve the name of 'is- lands' at all. They are just large masses of rough and broken rock, which simply teem with seals. They are of all sizes and of all ages. Some, the younger ones, I think, are a deep, shiny black, but the older ones are of a reddfsh brown color. The biggest of them must weigh several hundredweight. .- They are the flshman's worst enemies as they tear his nets and steal his fish,
and being protected, he can only swear or whistle at them. SWISHING FOR SNOOK As we passed the Pages, we put out three snook lines, and from then on, we did not look at the seals. For about an hour and a half, with . the wind ever U--i-hening, we beat to and fro past the Pages hauling in snook as fast as we eouUL while the fisherman unhooked and rabaited and his boy looked after the sailing. The fisherman seemed loth to go to the schnapper grounds. The wind was setting up so we confined ourselves to snook. They were of good size, mostly running from ZMt to 4 lo. in weight. The wind became very fierce lashing the tops of the huge rollers coming in from the south, until the sea was a mass of foam. It was practically a head wind, and it would iave been hopeless to beat against it without the help of the engine. We lowered the foresail and jib, and took two reefs in the mainsail, keeping it up solely for the purpose of keeping the boat steady, as the roll and pitch of the boat made this uncomfortable. We concentrated every eaort on not being washed overboard and in the meantime trying to eat Out lunch with the mini mum quantity of salt water. The rocks were hardly to be seen for spray, and the black shadows and the dust blown from the shore, heralded the arrival of fresh squalls. Just before dusk, we get back to the shelter of the Bluff, picked up oar moorings and rowed ashore. W-e were wet, straggled,- perhaps pitiful tooking objects, when we landed but were All happy. There were tea doeen fish in the well. With heavy feet, ana wet, dragging clothes, but with Bght hearts, we tramped the two miles home. ' The end of a perfect day was a change into dry clothes.